According to reports from The Summit Daily, after voting to unionize in May 2021, Breck Ski Patrol and Vail resorts have reached an agreement for a finalized union contract on December 15th. In this contract, the patrollers will have higher wages, access to employee housing options and access to closer parking.
Breckenridge is one of the many ski patrols who are moving forward with unionization. Ski Patrollers are notoriously underpaid in the industry and are demanding livable wages or at least wages that compensate for the occupational hazards of the job. Breckenridge Ski Patrol had a much more amenable attitude than other patrols and settled at a rumored starting wage of 15.00 per hour along with other merit-based pay increase incentives.
Ryan Dineen, a patroller on the bargaining committee remarked on how happy they were with how easy the negotiation process went.
“It was a positive process for our negotiating committee, and we specifically wanted to thank the local leadership at Breckenridge Ski Resort for making that possibleWithout the help of those individuals, I don’t think this process would have been as effective.”
On the other side of the spectrum, we have the Park City Ski Patrol Association (PCPSA), whom have been a strong arm with the fight for livable wages against Vail Resorts.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports the PCPSA are continuing to hold out on their demands in the 47th bargaining session and have failed to reach an agreed bargain. The PCPSA are demanding $17.00 per hour as a base and a guaranteed $1.00 pay increase for the first 3 years, to compensate for training and specified skills they have learned. At this point Vail Resorts will only meet them at $15.00.
“I think we’ve made it abundantly clear that that base wage offer comes short of being an appropriate and fair wage for what our job is — what we do on the ground.” Patrick Murphy Park City Ski Patroller
According to the Vail Resorts 2021 Annual Report, Vail Resorts CEO, Kirsten Lynch, is making over $1,000,000 a year as a base salary. Which if we do the math correctly, IF she works as much as most ski patrollers, which is close to 45 hours a week, she is making close to $425 dollars per hour. She makes more before lunch, then a rookie ski patroller makes over 2 weeks. That does not even include cash target incentive plans that can equal up to 100% of her salary nor does it include vested stock options.
Now this is just one skier’s opinion (mine), Ski patrollers have always been the unsung heroes of resorts. They get paid a sum that does not represent their worth to the mountain and have been doing so for years. However, with rising inflation and cost of living, if Vail wants to keep the resorts safe, retain staff and not have an incoming patrol class of 30 plus people, they need to reconsider their patrol pay structure and maybe give a little more money to retain experienced patrollers. Although they were able to make a deal with Breck Ski Patrol, it is hard to tell what is going to happen with Park City at this point.